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“In today’s hyper-competitive marketplace, private label programs must go beyond the ‘me-too’ mentality that seldom ventures far from the standards set by the big national brands,” Sharoff told executives of Bay Valley, one of the leading suppliers of private label food products, which was holding its annual management conference outside Chicago.
“Private label needs to focus more than ever on building a new product development capability that effectively responds to the changing needs of American consumers. This may require significant investments in production facilities, consumer research and marketing, but it is absolutely essential to capitalize on the opportunities in the marketplace,” he said.
Priorities have clearly changed for private label during the past decade, the PLMA executive believes. “It used to be that manufacturers were preoccupied with product quality, making sure that store brand products were at least equal to the leading national brand competitor. This goal has now been accomplished.”
Shoppers recognize this achievement and are buying larger quantities of private label products than ever. One of every five products they purchase in supermarkets is now a store brand, totaling $49 billion in annual sales, according to the latest Nielsen statistics.